News News/Local

Behind the scenes at Divvy headquarters

There are no signs or banners on this nondescript industrial warehouse in West Town to indicate that the 18,000-square-foot structure is headquarters for what could soon become the largest commuter cycling system in the country.

"It's intentional," Divvy Deputy General Manager Elliot Greenberger said. "We're off the radar."

Light blue paint is still fresh on the walls at the command center for Divvy, the bike-sharing program the city launched five months ago. Much of the office furniture consists of folding tables and chairs. As you enter the warehouse where the fleet is brought in for service, you pass an otherwise empty corner where the company's promotional bike, painted red to stand out from the sea of blue-tinted cycles, is parked. The program is owned by Portland, Ore.-based Alta Bicycle Share.

In front of dozens of tagged bikes waiting for service, a group of Divvy technicians works to replace tubes, tires and pedals. Near the ceiling, a giant Lollapalooza lineup hangs over the two-story warehouse, a remnant of a video production company that was the building's previous tenant. Outside, Divvy rebalancing trucks come and go, hauling away as many as 28 bikes at a time to put back into the system.

Things are constantly moving at Divvy, just as Chicago is poised to shed its Second City title when it comes to bikes.

The program is on track to become the largest bike-sharing system in North America next year, according to the Chicago Department of Transportation, expanding from 330 stations to 475 throughout the city. With that, it would surge ahead of current No. 1 Montreal (434) and No. 2 New York (331). With additional grant funding, the suburbs of Evanston and Oak Park could see their first glimpses of the light-blue bikes in 2014.

Greenberger said he does expect a slowdown as ice and snow make their way into Chicago this winter. But it doesn't mean Divvy won't be busy. In fewer than six months, riders have traveled more than 1.5 million miles in just fewer than 650,000 trips in the system of about 5,000 bikes. As the total number of stations is expected to climb next year, Greenberger expects numbers will continue to climb, especially if history is any indication.

"We were seeing as many as four to five trips per day [during the summer]," he said. "That's a metric some cities take years to get to."

mswasko@tribune.com

Want more? Discuss this article and others on RedEye's Facebook page

Copyright © 2015, RedEye
Related Content
  • DIVVY BMX
    DIVVY BMX

    Pro BMXer's Brian Kachinsky, Kevin Porter, & Nick Wilbat try their luck on Chicago's public bike: the DIvvy.

  • Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Divvy bikes
    Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Divvy bikes

    Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel loves his bikes, especially his pet project, Divvy sharing bikes. He's often seen on them or with them, and it makes for a funny visual. Behold, Rahm with bikes. Want more? Discuss this article and others on RedEye's Facebook page. 

  • 1 killed, 2 wounded in South Side shootings
    1 killed, 2 wounded in South Side shootings

    One man was killed, and two others were wounded in shootings Tuesday afternoon and evening in the city's Park Manor, Bronzeville and Morgan Park neighborhoods.

  • City lists 'problem landlords' on website
    City lists 'problem landlords' on website

    Chicago's Building Department published its first "problem landlords" list on its website Monday night in an attempt to crack down and publicly shame apartment building owners into providing tenants with basic services such as heat, hot water and working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

  • Chicago brothers who infiltrated cartel given 14 years in prison
    Chicago brothers who infiltrated cartel given 14 years in prison

    After more than six years in protective custody, the twin brothers from Chicago's West Side didn't look the part of hard-core drug traffickers when they walked into a public courtroom Tuesday for the first time since flipping on the notoriously violent Sinaloa cartel.

  • Emanuel, mayoral challengers face off for first time
    Emanuel, mayoral challengers face off for first time

    The first face-to-face meeting of the Chicago mayor’s race featured Rahm Emanuel offering a measured defense of his first term against a barrage of attacks from challengers who assailed his record on neighborhood development and crime and even his temperament.

  • 'Ghostbusters' reboot scares up cast: Wiig, McCarthy, McKinnon, Jones
    'Ghostbusters' reboot scares up cast: Wiig, McCarthy, McKinnon, Jones

    Director Paul Feig's "Ghostbusters" reboot has found its leading ladies. Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Leslie Jones and Kate McKinnon are in talks to star in the Sony comedy about a quartet of paranormal exterminators, The Times has confirmed.

  • CTA rider robbed at Taser-point: police
    CTA rider robbed at Taser-point: police

    A 23-year-old CTA rider was threatened with a Taser and robbed of her cellphone Friday as she transferred from the Red Line to the Green Line at the Roosevelt "L" station, police said Tuesday.

Comments
Loading